Leading his side in the championship for the first time, blindside flanker Jamie Ritchie is joined at openside by Luke Crosbie, whose excellent recent form is rewarded with a second start for Scotland, with Matt Fagerson completing the back row.
In the second row, the experienced Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist, who is named as Vice Captain, resume a partnership that impressed during last year's Autumn Nations Series.
Pierre Schoeman starts at loosehead prop in what is a 17th consecutive international since his 2021 debut, with the evergreen WP Nel - who reached 50 caps in November - selected at tighthead and George Turner named at hooker.
In the back division, scrum-half Ben White will link up with stand-off Finn Russell, a year on from his try-scoring debut in the Calcutta Cup at BT Murrayfield.
Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones are named as a centre pairing, the former having scored his first tries for Scotland in November's win over Argentina, with the latter having notched no fewer than four tries against England in as many games against them.
In the back three, Scotland's record try-scorer Stuart Hogg continues at full-back, with Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn lining up on the wings.
Townsend has selected a bench with a 5-3 split between forwards and backs, with Glasgow Warriors clubmates Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan and Jack Dempsey, alongside Jonny Gray, listed as pack replacements. George Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Harris complete the matchday squad as substitute options.
15 Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps
14 Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
13 Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
12 Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
11 Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps
10 Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
9 Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps
1 Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
2 George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 30 caps
3 WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
4 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
5 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) - Vice Captain - 59 caps
6 Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) - Captain - 36 caps
7 Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
8 Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps
16 Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
17 Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
18 Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
19 Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
20 Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
21 George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
22 Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
23 Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps